Scott Gorham on Thin Lizzy’s Live Legacy

Thin Lizzy’s 1977 album Live and Dangerous captured the band—and their groundbreaking and influential guitar team of Scott Gorham and Brian Robertson—at the height of their powers. When word got out that producer Tony Visconti had made major fixes to the Live and Dangerous recordings, some people wrongly questioned Lizzy’s ability to pull off their tunes in concert. The discovery of the tapes from that same era that make up Still Dangerous—Live at the Tower Theatre Philadelphia 1977 should settle that once and for all. The ten tracks sound every bit as good as those on Live and Dangerous, with no studio trickery whatsoever. Gorham shared his memories of the tour with GP from England.—

What do you remember about this gig?

We were either right in the middle of, or had just finished recording, the Bad Reputation album. We had an opportunity to go to America and do six weeks. We were on a mission to show America what a kickass live band Thin Lizzy was. We were the support act and we didn’t care. In our minds it was like this: “To all the headliners—you poor sons of bitches. You have to follow us.” This was going to be our time.

What was your rig?

In 1977, I would have been using a Les Paul Deluxe, with the mini-humbuckers, which I wouldn’t recommend to anybody. It was a nice little guitar but it just didn’t have the honk to it. Brian Robertson played a Les Paul Custom with much more powerful pickups. Amp-wise, it was a Marshall head going through two 4x12s, and for pedals I had a Colorsound phaser or flanger.

How did you view your respective guitar tones back then? Were you and Brian trying to get similar sounds or did you consciously go for something different?

Being a guitar team, we knew we couldn’t be too far out from each other. It would just sound too odd. Brian’s sound always had a lot more treble and sting than mine. I always felt uncomfortable with that. I liked having a warmer tone. We would set the levels on the amps the same, and we tried to get the same amount of sustain. We learned each other’s vibrato techniques and how we would bend the notes—we concentrated on all of that.

How would you divvy up the solos?

You had to be honest with yourself when it came to solos. You had to ask, “Which guy is getting this better? Which guy has the feel down the best?” There was no fighting ego-wise as to who was going to get what. People always want to know that. There really was no ego.

Some tweaks were made to the Live and Dangerous recordings. Did you do any fixes to this performance?

No, none at all. Not one thing. It’s the exact same running order and everything. That’s why I’m really proud of it. It brought back memories of what we were thinking in this period. When you know you’re being recorded, nobody wants to try anything new—better stick to the tried and true. But there are like four songs off Bad Reputation that had never been played live before. We not only put those in the set, but we started the set off with one of the new songs. It shows a lot of bravery. We took a lot of chances with this one, and I’m proud of that.